The Gender Knot

The Gender Knot: Unravelling Our Patriarchal LegacyThe 3rd edition of The Gender Knot  includes a new chapter on the causes and social invisibility of men’s violence. It is also available as an audiobook.

“The Gender Knot, Allan G. Johnson’s response to the pain and confusion that men and women experience by living with gender inequality, explains what patriarchy is and isn’t, how it works, and what gets in the way of understanding and doing something about it. Johnson’s simple yet powerful approach avoids the paralyzing trap of guilt, blame, anger, and defensive denial that often result from conversations about gender. He shows how we all participate in an oppressive system we didn’t create and how each of us can contribute towards its dissolution. He argues persuasively that something much better is possible and that our individual choices matter more than we can ever know.” (

For excerpts from the Preface and Chapter 1 (first edition) click here. For a second excerpt – “Manhood and War” – click here. And here’s a review from the Columbia Teachers College Record.

To purchase The Gender Knot:
The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, 3rd edition, is available online at Amazon (including a Kindle edition) or Barnes & Noble or through your local bookstore. Instructors wanting to order an exam copy for their courses should click here. For the audiobook, click here.

The Gender Knot is on Facebook.

Praise for The Gender Knot:

One of the foremost contributors to our understanding of gender, Allan Johnson has an exceptional grasp of the costs of patriarchy for both women and men. The Gender Knot illuminates vast areas of previously unexamined and unnamed effects of ‘power over’ social systems, and provides a beacon of hope and a message of courage. This book is brilliant and life-changing. Anyone who wants to rekindle a belief in the possibility of a more just and equitable world should read it. Anyone who wants to participate in creating urgently needed social change must read it.” Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., Director of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, Wellesley Centers for Women, and Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

The Gender Knot is a book that never leaves my side, intellectually at least. Since I was first introduced to Allan Johnson’s work, this text has served as a faithful companion to my personal and professional growth. Johnson lays out how patriarchy, as a social system, interacts with all of us, in one of the most accessibly written books on the topic. He proficiently explains how this damaging system hurts people of all genders, and gently guides us away from reactionary feelings of guilt and towards those of social responsibility. The Gender Knot is an invaluable and timeless resource for everyone who cares about gender equality.” Anita Sarkeesian, Feminist

Johnson argues that patriarchy is responsible for the oppression of women and that its core quality—male-identified control—generates a dynamic that promotes competition, oppression, violence, and fear and is as harmful to men as to women . . . . Clearly written and thought provoking . . . . Highly Recommended.” Choice

I was especially impressed with Johnson’s ability to tease out a number of under-theororized areas of patriarchal influence by giving illustrations of how other oppressive systems (capitalism, slavery, destruction of the environment, and warfare) are, in reality, manifestations of patriarchy, by-products of a society obsessed with power and control. Johnson tackles these exceptionally thorny, complex issues by presenting them in manageable prose using accessible examples, opening up the feminist critique of patriarchy to a larger readership.” Columbia Teachers College Record, July, 2015

As any knitter will tell you, the way to untangle a knot is not to pull hard on one end, but to gently shake the entire skein until all the threads are loosened. In this book, Allan Johnson gently and patiently shakes the patriarchal knot until each of the constituent threads becomes analytically clear. In doing so, he gives men a way to be part of unraveling that oppressive knot, rather than simply tugging defensively on their end.”  Michael Kimmel, author of Manhood in America: A Cultural History

Allan Johnson has written one of the best, most readable, and most comprehensive accounts of patriarchy that is available in print, and this revised edition makes this important book even more useful and relevant.”  Paula Rothenberg, editor, Race, Class, and Gender in the United States

Johnson’s book is beautifully written and thoughtful, and provides compelling analyses of patriarchy and the powerful ideology that supports it and inhibits change. It is a guidebook for a life-changing adventure.”  Rebecca Bach, Contemporary Sociology

The Gender Knot is a unique book that fills a void in the literature on gender. Highly accessible and a pleasure to read, Johnson never oversimplifies complex issues. His engaging style will appeal to a wide audience.”  Abby L. Ferber, Gender and Society

This is a brilliant accounting of patriarchy. . . a long, hard and unflinchingly honest look at how patriarchy works. . . . It should be read by any woman or man who wants to get a clearer picture of how patriarchy works.”  Off Our Backs

At last a man who got it right . . . . he creates a unique political context in which women and men can have feminist conversations . . . . and brings a freshness to . . . feminism that encourages us and gives us hope.”  Selma Miriam, Bloodroot Feminist Bookstore

Finally, the keys to a lasting, genuine gender peace! The Gender Knot is an eloquent, readable, and optimistic work that . . . gives practical pointers on how both men and women can work for gender justice . . . . without playing blame games. . . . It is also a profoundly personal work, for Johnson openly shares his experiences as a husband, father, son, brother, colleague, and friend. The Gender Knot derives much of its power from the smooth interweaving of Johnson’s sociological analysis with candid accounts of his struggles as a man in patriarchal society.”  Joanne Callahan, Customer Comment,

An excellent gift for anyone who ‘just doesn’t get it’ about feminism.”  Arnold Kahn in Psychology of Women Quarterly

This is a remarkable piece of work that . . . . will allow men both to accept responsibility for change and not be crushed by it or so discouraged as not even to begin.”  Nicholas Ayo, University of Notre Dame

This is a good book. Why is it good? It’s well written, well argued, and nails all the key issues right on the head. It’s the best book I’ve seen in this genre.”  Michael Schwalbe, author of Unlocking the Iron Cage: The Men’s Movement, Gender Politics, and American Culture

. . . a good introduction for women as well as men, but most importantly, it is from a man who can clearly explain to men what’s happening and what they can do to change it.”  Feminist Bookstore News

A lovingly written work that enlightens both women and men on the effects of patriarchy. I encourage all of my clients to read it.”  Carol F. Caputo, MACP

This book can be especially recommended to male students as an exemplary model of plainspoken and conscientious writing about male supremacy that is neither naive nor navel-gazing and that takes feminist theory and analysis absolutely seriously. This honorable book promises to be around a long time. The Gender Knot belongs on the reading list of every course in sexual politics that encourages students to engage patriarchy meaningfully.”  John Stoltenberg, Men and Masculinities

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